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95 Tips for Increasing Productivity Within Small and Medium Businesses

 

Today’s blog post is brought to you by DELL and their Dell 2155cdn Multifunction Color Laser Printer, which can serve as your scanner, copier, fax machine and printer. Your documents print fast and look sharp with 600×600 dpi and up to 24ppm letter printing.

Inspired by the 2155cdn’s productivity, we asked the CarolRoth.com Business Unplugged contributor network of entrepreneurs and experts to give their best tips for increasing productivity in small and midsize businesses. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.

You may notice some similar ideas and themes, but I kept their insights separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.

Plus, there is more good news for you! Dell has generously allowed us to give away a 2155cdn Multifunction Color Laser Printer as well!  All of the contributors below are automatically entered and you can enter to win the printer too by leaving a comment on this post with your productivity tip in the comments section below through November 18, 2011. Official rules for this promotion can be found at:
http://www.carolroth.com/dell-printer-promotion-rules/.

And there’s another chance to win by posting advice on the Trade Secrets Facebook tab at: https://www.facebook.com/DellBusiness?sk=app_152099558176008
so stop by there as well.

Finally, Dell will be compiling the best advice received during this campaign into an eBook early next spring.

*Disclosure- the CarolRoth.com team has also received a printer from Dell as part of this sponsorship.

Now, onto the list…

1. The 3 Ds

Delegate, delegate, delegate. Don't do what you can pay someone $10 an hour for - your time is worth more than that. The tendency we see in small to medium businesses is the philosophy that I can do it better, faster, and easier if I do it myself rather than delegating. But at what cost? Pay someone to do the job, train them in the manner in which you want it done, and then you do what you're good at, not the mundane delegate-able jobs.
Thanks to: Rosanne Dausilio PhD of Human Technologies Global Inc.

2. Do What You Feel Like Doing

My productivity is related to inspiration. When I'm inspired, I get more done and I do it better. If I'm not inspired, no amount of forcing myself to do something will work. I am inspired by deadlines, so sometimes I create deadlines for myself. If a task is on my to-do list for more than two weeks, I'm not going to do it. I either need to find someone who is inspired by it or admit it isn't worth doing.
Thanks to: J Kim Wright of Cutting Edge Law.

3. Turn on Your Producing Clock

"Stop" setting results as goals. "Start" setting activity goals and behavior goals to reach great productivity gains. You can't manage results in productivity, but you can manage you. What you do with the time and how you behave within the time you can manage and control. If you want more homeruns, make more swings that are perfect swings. For example: What you say matters. How you say it matters. How often you say it matters. Start controlling and managing you; the results will come in spades.
Thanks to: Jim Camp of Camp Negotiation Institute.

4. Life is Not a Reality Show!

We watch reality shows because of the drama, the conflict between show participants. Drama in the office space sucks up productivity. Keep drama out by hiring team players. When adding to staff, have current team members talk with the candidate and get their feelings about the new person. Make it clear that "he said she said" stuff won't be tolerated. Make the office "open" so this high school attitude can't exist. And keep a supply of chocolate around because chocolate solves everything!
Thanks to: Mark Alyn of Mark Alyn Communications, Inc.

5. Block & Tackle!

Shutting off email and designating blocks of time to get actual work done is the most effective way to increase productivity. It is far too easy to lose an entire business day to email, phone calls and interruptions -- all of which can send us off on unproductive tangents. Be sure to include scheduled breaks every 45-90 minutes. Research has shown even a 5 minute mental health or stretch break lets you come back more focused and productive!
Thanks to: Elene Cafasso of Enerpace, Inc. Executive Coaching.

6. Remove Hurdles

My chief role as CEO is to 'serve' my team mates (whom I value the same as customers) and remove their hurdles in the process. Productivity is squashed by restrictions and unneeded processes. I hired these professionals for a reason, and all too often we fail to keep focused on the truth: companies don't generate profits, people do.
Thanks to: David Sears of Print Resource.

7. Try Templates to Save Time

If there's a task you find yourself doing repeatedly, create a template. For example, if you must frequently respond to email inquiries on a particular subject, create a boilerplate letter. No sense in writing from scratch each time.

If you frequently send out company press releases, you can most likely use some of the same wording no matter the release's specific focus.

If your templates are good, you may even be able to delegate the tasks to others.
Thanks to: Susan Greene of Marketing Copywriter.

8. The 5 Productivity Secrets

1) People know the key aims of the business they work for and how they contribute to these. 2) People have a few clear, well defined targets that focus their attention. 3) People know what standard they are required to operate to - they know what good looks like! 4) People get regular feedback on how they are performing. 5) Good performers receive recognition, poor performers receive reprimands - they feel the heat!
Thanks to: Simon Hazeldine of E3.

9. Find Solutions, Not Problems

So much of business is common sense that simply gets overlooked.

One of the keys to increasing productivity is to never bring a problem to the table without a solution, or at the very least, a foundation for a solution.

Expecting others to fix problems without personal contributions creates an energy drain on the entire organization. Every person in a company is responsible for improving operations and efficiencies. Great ideas often come from unexpected sources.
Thanks to: Bill Shelton of Left Field Creative.

10. Look at Your Temperament!

Productivity depends on people! Getting to know the temperament of your team and its members is paramount to success. Learn about temperament and become more effective and efficient. A mix of temperaments (i.e., Earth, Air, Fire and Water) provides a unique blend of viewpoints and perceptions.
Thanks to: Brad Dude of Brad Dude & Associates.

11. Avoid the Meeting Snorefest

Keep meetings short, to the point and engaging. Invite only those that need to be there and will benefit from the content. Include something inspirational or motivational so attendees leave the meeting feeling good about what took place.
Thanks to: Lisa Fraser of Lisa J Fraser Business Coaching.

12. Tighten Down the Garden Hose

We too often confuse lots of activity with effectiveness. Creating simple, straightforward strategies and processes lets us focus on the most powerful actions to get the most powerful results. Add too many steps or rabbit trails and like a garden hose nozzle opened wide, the power spreads out and softens the outcome. Tighten down that nozzle to blast ahead to your goal with less fuss, less stress, less cost, and mega-results.
Thanks to: Rosey Dow of The Prospect Profiler™.

13. How Do You Eat an Elephant?

You eat an elephant one bite at the time. And you do large projects or jobs one small piece at a time. Breaking down a big, overwhelming undertaking into small tasks and committing a complete date to them will drastically increase productivity. This method will also help decrease the number of delays caused by our natural tendency to avoid a big project or job.
Thanks to: Janet Christy of Leverage & Development, LLC.

14. Empower PASSION!

Small and mid-sized businesses hold unique powers to empower their employees through seeking their passion. Even large companies can encourage their associates to think like entrepreneurs thereby infusing real passion to their companies. A lean company that trusts their employees to think and more importantly act like entrepreneurs will always succeed!
Thanks to: Warren Bobrow of Wild River Review.

15. Your Achievement Prescription

Attention + Intention + Action = Greater Productivity

Pay attention to what you perceive mentally. Focus on the positive and filter out the negative and with whom you conceive socially; attract positive people to your team.

Then, believe emotionally in your mission & goals by positively stating your intention.

Mix in what you achieve physically by acting on your attention and intention...

...and watch as your productivity positively increases at an exponential rate!
Thanks to: Dr. Joey Faucette of Listen to Life.

16. Money Motivates Most

Just as entrepreneurs are motivated by increasing financial rewards, so also are workers. A compensation system based on progressive pay increases, bonuses for innovation, and capital accumulation payouts for consistent company success will maximize productivity. The company that motivates its workforce to maximum, consistent high productivity will win in the marketplace every time.
Thanks to: Leonard Scott of Leonard Scott & Company.

17. The Four F Work Week

I break my weeks into four types of days.

Focus days are days of absolute productivity. No distractions, just pure focus. You should be able to do an entire week's work in these two days. Mon & Wed.

Flex days are used to schedule. Planning, making appointments, etc. Use for Focus or Filler as needed. Tues & Fri.

Filler days are used to fill in the gaps. Marketing, accounting, filing, meetings, consults, calls, etc. Thurs & Sat.

Freedom days are exactly that. Sundays.
Thanks to: Chris Young of B2Cy Connection Solutions.

18. Values Drive Performance

Any group, team, or business needs focus to provide purpose, direction and acceptance which drives performance. Every day, in some way, have your core values, mission, vision and purpose in front of your team. Begin each meeting with a 1 minute review of them. In each decision, have these as a test against the decision. Have your team share these with your clients, vendors and stake holders. You will have a self starting/directed team running at full speed. Now, you have to keep up to them!
Thanks to: Harlan Goerger of H. Goerger & Assoc dba AskHG.com.

19. Cover Bases and Be Workable

Solutions should be workable, reasonable, and realistic in execution. The whole point behind productivity is setting objectives based on group resources available. Put objectives in print. Cover issues of Who, What, Where, Why, and How. Then, the confusion and misunderstanding is cut dramatically.
Thanks to: TONY MARREN of Operation Just One Can.

20. Own Your Agenda!

Productivity in a business is critical for success, but often not at the top of the list.

Look ahead and be future oriented. Think about what could be and take positive forward action.

Own your time. Time is a very precious commodity for business owners and owning their agenda is critical. Set your own calendar.

Do not multi-task!! Keep one task the main priority and focus until you have implemented your objective. Everyone thinks multi-tasking is productive; it isn't!
Thanks to: Doug Hecker of 2 Excel Now, LLC.

21. Appreciate Experience

Productivity... to me, that means getting high quality work, and a lot of it, during business hours. In my seven-year-old publishing company, appreciating the experiential capital of my staff has been the key to the highest productivity.

I've found that employees produce more if I regularly and openly inform them about the company, allow them to learn and use new skills, empower them to do their jobs, and hold them accountable. Reward them for staying with you--experience is a priceless asset.
Thanks to: Lisa Pelto of Concierge Marketing and Publishing.

22. Train, Retrain, Retain...

Every single person in every single job must create and maintain a job manual.

A well-constructed job manual must be based on regular, quality training and coaching.

Make sure people know what to do and how to do it. Then, productivity rises.

Train, retrain, retain...old concept, still works!
Thanks to: Sheila Van Houten of New Light Consulting Corporation.

23. I Hear What You're Saying

My work is done primarily with small and medium sized businesses. I tell them to take advantage of the fact that they get to know their employees quite well. My recommendation is to find out what their employees think will increase production; ask for their advice! They are the ones doing the job and this will allow them to make it their own and take pride in its growth, knowing that they contributed to that growth. Any place I've worked, employees have ideas - listen to them.
Thanks to: Kellie Auld of Simply Communicating.

24. Close the Dripping Faucets

Closing the gaps between strategy, structure, processes/operations, incentives and people will increase productivity and stop all of the dripping faucets of wasted time to actions. The closing of these gaps will better align behaviors to desired results and helps to ensure that the right people are in the right seats using the right talents when making the right decisions for the right results in the right time frame and the right environment.
Thanks to: Leanne Hoagland-Smith of ADVANCED SYSTEMS.

25. INTEGRATE YOUR RESOURCES!

True productivity means efficiency, and efficiency derives from gaining results by blending your resources with harmony to optimum advantage without stressing your personnel! Efficiency means getting the best-case result with the least effort invested, not by over-stressing people.

The Gestalt of business designs an effective integrated architecture of how individuals work together, complementing one another. Be wary of simple org charts and embrace integrating the aptitudes of personnel!
Thanks to: W. Michael King of W. Michael King, Ph.D.

26. Multiply Yourself

The fastest way I've learned to boost productivity is to multiply my efforts utilizing replicatable web 2.0 means. What does that mean?

From productivity tools/service such as Workflowy, TaskRabbit, Basecamp and my most effective tool: ZIRTUAL ASSISTANTS- I have an amazing "zirtual"/virtual assistant, who takes a ton off my shoulders and allows me to focus on more meaty things.

The key is having a plan and understanding how to properly utilize these tools and resources!
Thanks to: Rob Pene of Mission Driven Brand, LLC.

27. Identify the Critical Few

As Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Work Week likes to say, identify the critical few and ignore the trivial many. Taking the extra hour, two or even more to clearly identify the most powerful outcome producing tasks is well worth your time. Once identified, they can help you multiply your results. What is producing results now? Excel in that area.
Thanks to: Ryan Critchett of RMC Tech Laptop Repair.

28. Keep Your Eye on the ROIT

Constantly evaluate what you are spending your time on and move things from your To Do list to a Do Not Do list.

Too often, we focus on what has become Urgent but may not be Important. We add things to our To Do list without really evaluating the time investment and payback.

Time is a precious and scarce commodity. It should not be expended lightly. Evaluate your Return On Invested Time constantly, not just the return on your Financials.

Stop Doing is often as important as Doing.
Thanks to: Faith Fuqua-Purvis of Synergetic Solutions LLC.

29. Get an Egg Timer

As co-founder of a social media marketing company, I'm a strong believer in the benefit for small and medium businesses in using social media to connect with prospective clients or customers. But social media can be addictive and thus, a time and productivity thief. Solution? Schedule a regularly allotted social media marketing time period each day and, if you cannot on your own limit yourself to that time amount, set an egg timer. When the timer goes off, you're out of there!
Thanks to: Phyllis Zimbler Miller of Miller Mosaic, LLC.

30. Do Not Skimp on Equipment!

When I lecture to young entrepreneurs just getting started, the first thing I tell them is not to skimp on equipment. Have the right tools for the job! A great example is having dual monitors. It does not cost that much and increases productivity 50 fold. Being able to look at two programs at once and cut and paste without toggling saves time and better allows you to focus on the task at hand. The other piece to this equation is RAM, you can NEVER have enough.
Thanks to: Ben Baker of CMYK Solutions Inc.

31. Time Division

What has helped to increase productivity in my business is simply dividing the time I have available on any day by the tasks that are most important to get done first.

Say I have only two solid hours to work - I could divide that time chunk into completing 2 tasks, giving them an hour each. Or for example, I could give the whole two hours to one task, or I could do four tasks giving them 30 minutes each.

The point is set it, do it, and then move on. This has helped me to maintain focus.
Thanks to: Barb Roehler of BR Innovations LLC.

32. Passionate About the Mission

I have found that when my team clearly understands our mission, vision and values they refrain from non-productive activities that would be detrimental to our mission of "Restoring order to the world one household at a time." When we are on an organizing job, some of our Liberators get wrapped up in the minute details. Once they are re-focused on the vision for the household, the budget and our mission, they get back on track and finish the job so fast that our clients are amazed.
Thanks to: Angela Cody-Rouget of Major Mom.

33. Connect

Connections energize. Connecting exposes you to new ideas and a larger network. When you see what others are doing, it gives you a greater vision of what you can be doing and how you can do it. Our productivity is limited by our vision. Expand the vision, expand your productivity.
Thanks to: Haleh Rabizadeh Resnick of Little Patient Big Doctor.

34. Motivate Their Personality!

Understanding the personality type of your staff reaps huge rewards! Each type is motivated differently to perform. Some will love the challenge of working on several projects at once and need no follow up, while others prefer one or two assignments at a time with a side list of projects, in order of priority, to work on until you are able to assign them more work. You must understand how each person operates to get the most and best out of them!
Thanks to: Angel Tucker of Personality Profiles LLC.

35. Focus on Results, not Time

Whether or not you become a certified Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) like us, focusing your measurement of productivity on results rather than time spent producing is the name of the game!
Thanks to: Rocky Walls of 12 Stars Media.

36. Make a List and Check it Twice

A small business owner never has enough time to do everything that they need to do. You have to prioritize and the best way to do that is to make a list of what you need to do. Put a smile next to the things that will make your clients happy and a dollar sign next to the things that will bring you new business. Do the smiles first because keeping your customers happy is job number one. Then, do the dollar signs because that is growth. Whatever time you have left, do the rest. Prioritize!
Thanks to: John Paul Engel of Project Be The Change.

37. Create an Application Form

To maximize productivity, limit introductory phone calls to 15 minutes and share 1 piece of advice the prospect doesn't know so that they understand your value. Then, tell the prospective client that you are sending them an application form to work with you. Include a small, non-refundable deposit that will be entirely applied to their work. Serious prospects will move forward with you. "Tire kickers" will go away.
Thanks to: Randy Peyser of Author One Stop.

38. First Things First!

If you want to increase productivity in your organization, then make sure priorities are clear and well-understood by those responsible for accomplishing them. That way, your employees will be focused on those tasks or projects that are both the most important and the most imperative to your business success. They will know what matters and where to place their time and talents. Take time at the beginning to clearly set and communicate the priorities and just watch the productivity ramp up!
Thanks to: Cathleen O'Connor of The Balance Whisperer.

39. Get on the Same Goal Schedule

Employees within a small or medium company should meet periodically to ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal on a daily basis. If you set a team goal and break it down into different tasks within each department, then everyone will have a list of things they know they need to get done every day to get closer to that goal. Set clear guidelines as to what everyone's responsibilities are to avoid overlapping redundancies and encourage all to report to each other as tasks get done.
Thanks to: Sara Schoonover of TicketKick.

40. Automate w/Online Scheduling

Scheduling and managing appointments and customer information in a traditional manner can have a real negative effect on overall productivity. An easy way to automate and streamline this tedious task is with online scheduling software. By allowing customers to schedule online instead of over the phone, business owners and staff will spend less time on the phone or responding to voicemail messages and more time focused on other pressing tasks.
Thanks to: Eric Richard of Appointment-Plus.

41. 2012 Must-Do

The new way to increase productivity is dedication and taking action daily.
Thanks to: Sharron Dark.

42. Worst First

As adverse and challenging as it might be to do, if you truly want to improve your productivity, tackle the most challenging task for the day first. So, as you look at your To-Do List and might be contemplating knocking off the easy ones first, reverse your thinking and tackle that "big hairy" item that is glaring at you. Trust me, if you can knock that one out first, when you are at your freshest and most prepared, the rest of your day and your list will be much easier to accomplish.
Thanks to: Myles Miller of SuccessHQ.

43. Use a Shortcut!

Keep a folder on your desktop with shortcuts to your most frequently used files. With one click, you will be able to find what you need quickly and efficiently. Learn shortcuts on your computer to save time as well. These are shortcuts that aren't taking the easy way out!
Thanks to: Julie Seibert of Healing through Organization.

44. Do it Now: Nike is Right

Put a sign above your desk that says "DO IT NOW!" Each time you think of something or reach for a piece of paper, the sign reminds you to "DO IT NOW." Make that phone call, put the item on your 'to do' list or file it, instead of pile it, and then your mind is clear to concentrate on what needs to be done. Simple? Yes! Effective? Absolutely! This visual nagging reminder allowed me to write my book and have it published in under 1 year.
Thanks to: Joan Craven of Craven Communications.

45. Connect to Meaning

Connect to the meaning behind your business project and watch your productivity soar! Choose 3 project “spark words” based on the experience you’ll deliver. Post them on project folders and in project plans. Now, break projects down into daily tasks. Celebrate task completion with a complementary reward: go for a brisk walk to celebrate momentum or take a coloring break for creativity. Finally, pick one “spark word” daily and ask, “How can I infuse this project with more of this?”
Thanks to: Dawn Richerson of Creative Revolutions Inc.

46. Get Virtual Assistance

The best way to get more productive is to delegate EVERYTHING that you do not have to do yourself. Administrative duties and non-value-added tasks should be delegated to others! The Admin's hourly fees will more than make up for the time you DON'T have to waste on your own skill gaps. A VA can do in minutes what might take you hours and even days! Get help! You'll be freed to do bigger, more profitable and enjoyable things to build your business!
Thanks to: Cena Block of Sane Spaces Productivity Consulting.

47. Put Your Eggs in Many Baskets

The days of the one trick pony are over. To survive, flourish and be productive in this economic climate, staying the course is not going to be enough. The best way to do this is to expand your stream of contact points whereby your customers can easily find you. You must have a good website, a customer service person, easy means of contact via phone, e-mail, etc., a Facebook and social media strategy, and an effective PR and community outreach program. Bottom line, more than ever, you have to diversify!
Thanks to: Craig Wolfe of CelebriDucks.

48. Make the Work Place Fun

For increased productivity, make your place of business a place that is fun, with an environment that gives the workers the encouragement and motivation to go the extra mile. Management should be upbeat, positive and supportive. Don't make harsh rules. Don't make your team feel like they are in prison. Show respect for all team members and reward them with words, gifts and/or bonuses for their hard work.
Thanks to: Heidi McCarthy of Toughest Customer.

49. Ahead of the Pack

You can get more done by creating a daily agenda for high-priority tasks. Use a project management tool to keep the work flow moving with tasks like blogging, social media, and client communication. Save time and money by scheduling e-mails in advance using LetterMelater.com.
Thanks to: Jackie O'Neal of O'Neal Media Author Services.

50. Increasing Productivity

There are a few key elements for being productive including: priority planning, clearly defining your goals, delegating to others and focusing on your passion. Remember to make relaxation time or meditation time throughout the day. Create a support system of peers and mentors to guide you in the right direction. Have a one week, one month, and one year plan. Read books on peak performance, motivation and success.
Thanks to: Lewis Harrison of Lewis Harrison's Success Coaching.

51. Just Say No

Productive and successful start-ups are ones that can filter out distractions and focus with a laser-like intensity on "what really matters." This is hard to do, but it's absolutely necessary, since accepting every meeting request, inquiry, lead or opportunity that presents itself will pull you in too many directions and you'll never get things done. In short, being able to tune out the noise is the shortest path to hyper productivity and the best way to do that is to "just say no" more often.
Thanks to: Nathan Beckord of VentureArchetypes LLC.

52. Measure it!

What gets measured gets done. Most small businesses don't have any performance metrics. Whether it is packages being shipped, invoices processed per hour, or sales calls per week, it can be measured. Without some sort of performance metrics, work expands to fill the time allotted and management has no real way of knowing if they are properly staffed as long as everyone is "Busy." It takes work to set up the metrics, but it is far worth it in the long term.
Thanks to: Troy Harrison of SalesForce Solutions.

53. Offer Wellness Hours

One of the biggest productivity killers is stress, which costs American businesses $300 Billion per year in measurable costs. Some companies offer wellness hours, usually a total of 3 hours per week, so that employees can de-stress themselves in a meditation room or take a serene walk along a creek. Taking a few minutes out for peaceful activities accumulates peace instead of stress. Some of these activities include stretching, meditation, silent offerings of gratitude and even sports.
Thanks to: Tom Von Deck of Monkey Wisdom Corporate Meditation.

54. Hire a Virtual Assistant

If you want to increase your productivity as a small business owner, your best bet would be to hire a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants can handle simple administrative tasks (that can take up huge amounts of your time), while you actually focus on building your business (acquiring clients and closing sales). It will be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Thanks to: Brittni Abiolu of FundingAlley.

55. Learn from Sherlock Holmes

Improving productivity means solving problems. Effective problem solvers use Holmes' methods. They observe an activity when it works well and when it doesn't. They compare the extremes directly, looking for non-random patterns and consistent differences. They pursue these clues and ignore everything else. Never guess what root causes might be. Just observe and let the activity show you what they are. "Eliminate the impossible and whatever remains must be the truth."
Thanks to: Gregg Young of Young Associates, Inc.

56. Productivity and Post-it-Notes

Tom Peters says, “Any idiot can come to work with a 25 item to-do list. The brilliance is in not doing 20 of them.” Often we get side-tracked with unimportant tasks. Tomorrow, place 7 Post-It notes around the office. On each note, print your most vital business goal for the year. Now, every time you see one, ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing now directly contributing to the achievement of this key goal?” If the answer is no, stop what you’re doing and start doing something that will.
Thanks to: Bill Todd of Immediate Impact Marketing.

57. Defeat the Thief in the Office

The thief is PRESSURE- it silently steals your profit and productivity by slowly bearing down on staff and family.

Offer your staff regular 20 minute relaxation massages to energize and take care of headaches and neck/shoulder pain.

Done professionally, it can maximize the output of staff and balance the wellness of executives and their families.
Thanks to: Ernie Boxall of Balance Health and Fitness.co.uk.

58. Employee Incentives

I always find that employees’ productivity goes up when we have a monthly movie ticket as a prize, especially when it’s a movie premiere. Staff love contests and when a staff member wins, it gives the other employees more of an incentive to increase productivity to win the next month's prize. Friendly rivalry between staff members and competition helps boost morale and makes the work environment fun.
Thanks to: Eula M. Guest, COO of Griot's Roll Film Production .

59. It's All About Creativity

When increasing productivity within a small business, focus on your firm's team. Your team is everything. When you neglect your team, you neglect your business.

Every business owner should hire a team of diverse individuals who share and exchange ideas among themselves. Conduct daily brainstorming sessions, but keep them under thirty minutes.

In the end, creative ideas that result from these sessions increase productivity and morale by motivating employees, and minimize "brain drain".
Thanks to: Gerard Boucher of Boucher + Co..

60. Get Off Your Damn Cell Phone

If I had to, I'd go as far as having employees check their cell phones at the door. Unfortunately, since most people seem to have them surgically implanted in their skull, this is hard to do. Still, my handbook clearly states that when on my time, there are no personal calls. I don't even want to hear your stupid ring tone. When you are on the clock, you work - or find different employment. This goes for social media as well. I don't steal your time; don't think you can steal mine!
Thanks to: Randy Ganther of Randy Ganther's Maximum Success.

61. Find Your "Eye of the Tiger"

We all need inspiration. What works best for me is something that really gets my juices flowing. Something that makes you want to jump off the couch and conquer the world. Find your "Eye of the Tiger". For me it is movies like 'GI Jane' or 'Social Network'. Find something that makes you not just want to be more, but makes you feel like that is your only option.
Thanks to: Lauren MacEwen of SM Cubed.

62. Involved Employees = Success

As a small business owner, I believe that the best way to increase productivity among employees is to make them invested in the company’s success. Share the details of what the company is working on with employees, allow their thoughts and ideas to become part of ongoing dialogues, keep them posted on business activity, as well as business development and, above all, hold employees responsible and accountable and, in the end, reward their hard work.
Thanks to: Michael Medico of E+M Advertising.

63. Investments Not Employees

Productivity in any business, regardless of size, is the direct result of staff satisfaction. You can give your team the tools and the time, but if they are not inspired, the results will be mediocre. Treating staff like employees is a rental agreement; treating them like investments is an ownership proposition. Ask yourself, "What can I do to show my employees I am investing in them?" It is often something as simple as recognition, training, new projects, or a heartfelt "thank you!"
Thanks to: Jerry Dollar of Jerry V. Dollar, Author and Blogger.

64. Cure is in the Mirror

When persons smile and are friendly, sales and productivity go up; so does employees’ health. An atmosphere of smiling and humor is best. Smiling = fewer colds.

When you reduce stress hormones, there is better health. You get stress chemicals when breathing is rapid and muscles tighten. So, breathe in for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 6.
Look in the Mirror and SEE your face, jaw, and shoulders relax; these signal the stress center that there is no stress, so no stress chemicals are released.
Thanks to: Murray Grossan, M.D. of Hydro Med Inc.

65. Your Monster Referral Strategy

For productivity, we train every employee to deliver exceptional service and then ask this: who is the next person that you know who could use these services? We deliver good news of a success by a simple 3 step process. Before we deliver any good news, we first- Recount the problem encountered, then we get Agreement over how important the solution is, and then we Go for the referral with the above statement. We RAG it! After this process, the client is ecstatic and ready to think hard about finding us a referral.
Thanks to: Rob Kosberg of Top Ranking.

66. Timing is Everything

Set a start time AND an end time for EVERYTHING. Most executives lose way too much time to projects and meetings that take longer than they should, simply because no ending time was ever attached to them.

At the beginning of each day or week, look over the projects and figure how long each one should take. Then, make it a game to finish each task on or ahead of schedule.
Thanks to: Ron Caruthers of Ducerus Total College Planning.

67. Ask People to Embrace Failure

Everyone is going to make mistakes at work, but in most business cultures, no one is willing to admit to an error. Instead, we should ENCOURAGE employees to embrace failure. State that we expect people to take risks, which means that we expect them to screw up. If people know that they can do wrong, they are more likely to focus on meaningful results and dream up real innovations, rather than being too conservative or total perfectionists. Failure is the secret to success!
Thanks to: Robby Slaughter of Slaughter Development.

68. Break Out the Fire Hose

Managers on average spend 42% of their day "putting out fires." Invest in dispute resolution skills and communications training for yourself (yes, you need it!), your managers and team members. You'll boost productivity by 15% or more by preventing or catching conflicts when they're mere sparks. Most managers avoid conflict or aren't empowering communicators - in writing or in person. Getting proactive about resolving conflict turns you into a creative force, instead of a referee or firefighter.
Thanks to: Paula Langguth Ryan of Compassionate Mediators.

69. Want to Get More Done?

Schedule your week. For every day, write down the things you have to do & number the items in order of their real importance. First thing every morning, start working on #1 & stay with it until it’s completed. Then #2 & don’t go any further until it’s finished or until you’ve done as much with it as you can. Then, proceed to #3 and so on. Do this daily. Establish priorities, record your plan of action & stick to it, and then get your entire team to do the same. Schedule a quiet hour daily.
Thanks to: Christoph Nauer of Life Coaching With a Twist.

70. Become Like a Tree

This is best practiced first thing in the morning or just before bed, so it becomes part of your daily ritual. Stand perfectly still for at least 15 minutes (no blinking, swallowing, eye movement, muscle spasms, etc). Invoke the "watcher." Make sure you don't move. Quiet your mind, focus your energy inward and upward. Allow the tension of non-movement to build. Let the energy flow upward out the top of your head. This ancient practice increased my productivity as an author/small business owner ten-fold.
Thanks to: Carol Sue Shride of My Piece of the Puzzle, LLC.

71. Timers Aren't Just for Cooking

Want a big boost in your business productivity? Get yourself a ticking timer (NOT digital, there's not enough urgency) and assign a particular amount of time to each task. You'll be amazed at how quickly your mind functions when you give yourself a specific number of minutes to finish a business task.

Also, use your trusty timer to check your email just 7-8 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes before lunch, and 30 minutes before you end your day. STOP LETTING EMAIL EAT ALL OF YOUR TIME & ENERGY NOW!
Thanks to: Dr. Barnsley Brown of Spirited Solutions SpeakingCoaching.

72. Take More Time Off

I find that the more time I take off, the more productive my working hours become.

I'm forced to be productive - I simply have less time to waste. I have to be strategic about what I choose to do. And I'm more inspired while I am working.

Leaving work behind is the hardest part. So, I make my time off start with a scheduled activity: an appointment, dinner date, or tickets.

Once I've broken away from "the office", it's easier to stay away and relax.
Thanks to: Erin Ferree of BrandStyle Design.

73. Do What You Do Best...

...and outsource the rest! There is no greater way to increased productivity.
Thanks to: Randy Savicky of Strategy+Communications.

74. Productive, Not Busy

To help keep my coworkers and me on track, my boss has us submit a “Top 3” at the start of every day— our three most important tasks to accomplish that day. Other jobs of higher priority come up occasionally, of course, but this way, I have an easy way to measure my accomplishments. This focus also makes me less likely to turn to less important or even unproductive tasks. In other words, it keeps me productive, not just “busy.”
Thanks to: Danny Bracco of Mustang Marketing.

75. I Remember You!

My best piece of advice for increasing productivity in a small to medium business is video marketing! With an on-line visual of your product or service, your personal brand will make you memorable, even while you sleep. The phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" is true! Make a statement and impression that can set you ahead of the rest in your marketing strategy with video marketing.
Thanks to: Faithe Rogers of Faithe's PR Services.

76. Grow with a Business Coach

A good Business or Life Coach is essential to any small business desiring growth. A business coach will hold you personally accountable, provide you with direction and ultimately, increase productivity. The right coach is important, finding one that caters to your specific needs rather than marketing to the masses. Business coaches offer creativity, focus and outside perspective to increase productivity. There is power in the partnership and it's fun to have someone else along on the journey.
Thanks to: Jill Cranford of Stone 2 Furniture.

77. Talk Common Sense

Tell employees exactly what the given problem is & how to resolve all; how it & employees can & will be measured. That's standard ISD operating technique.

Then, state each employee's part that helps to achieve end(s): attitude, skill training, and combination. Who is in charge? What specific measures; when? State real benefits to them!

As Hawthorne studies proved decades ago, people want to cooperate--if they know what's expected. If you don't know what you want, how can they?
Thanks to: Richard Cavalier of www.meetingscavalier.com.

78. Flower Power

A recent study at Washington State University revealed that test subjects were 12% more productive and less stressed when live plants were added to the lab. It also showed that fatigue and headaches fell by 30% and 20% respectively. Other research from the US, the Netherlands and the UK has found that the presence of office plants can have a positive effect on the work environment. So, to improve productivity in your company, add some FLOWER POWER!
Thanks to: Tom Porter of Business Lessons From Nature.

79. Goals Drive Productivity

To improve productivity, you must use measurements in order to objectively gauge productivity. Once measurements are selected, you must set quantifiable goals for these measurements. The next step is to track actual results against these goals. If you are missing them, hold your people accountable for results. Ensure that action plans are developed that specify what will be done, who will do it, what are the desired outcomes and when it will be done by.
Thanks to: Robert Papes of Papes Consulting.

80. Give Your Employees Your Stuff

For increased productivity, make sure your employees use your product or service. When in the bottled water route business, we leased bottle coolers to employees for $1. Now in the storage business, we rent storage units to employees for $3 a month. If they don't use your stuff, how can they sell it, service it or talk about it? You are committing small business suicide if one of your employees says this about your business to someone, "I don't know how to use it, I can't afford it."
Thanks to: Tron Jordheim of StorageMart.

81. You Only Need to Do 2 Things

To increase productivity significantly, starting tomorrow, you only have to do 2 things.

1. Decide what needs to be done.

2. Then, set an exact date and time you'll do each task.

These two decisions and one action step will increase your productivity immediately.

Of course, you have to keep the commitments you make to yourself too, but that should be easy, right?
Thanks to: Bill Gluth of Creative Thinking for Business.

82. Listen to Grow Productivity

Effective listening leads to higher productivity in any type of organization. When leaders of an organization listen to their people attentively, they show that they care. Care produces respect and raises the level of trust in a relationship. Respect and trust will naturally result in better performance and higher productivity. In fact, the higher the level of trust in a leader, the higher the productivity and the more successful the organization as a whole will be, even in an economic downturn.
Thanks to: Kamran Akbarzadeh of Dream Achievers Academy.

83. Sharing in the 'Gold'

Everyone loves the opportunity to make more money. Give your employees the chance to be in charge of how much more they can earn and I am not talking about 'overtime'. Give them an incentive. Make an arrangement whereas after they produce the normal amount of product for their day, give them get a percentage or fixed dollar amount from every piece of additional work they produce. This is very easily applied in manufacturing items or in the producing of work in the construction industry, etc.
Thanks to: Harris Glasser of Serving The People Press LLC.

84. Plan to be Productive

It is essential that all businesses have a strategic plan which is posted, shared, communicated and reviewed on a regular basis. Every single task that is taken on can then be based on the action plans emanating from the strategic plan. This plan, supported by a simple mission statement and aligned with the goals and values of the organization, creates the structure within which to succeed and remain productive.
Thanks to: Ann Max of Productive to the Max.

85. How to Increase Productivity

First, we need a CEO who understands people and gives them the opportunities to practice their expertise and contribute. He/she should be market oriented with emphasis on production cost and product quality. It is very important to have a chief engineer and/or the director of product development with a wide variety of engineering and production experiences, a solid and proven engineering background, must be highly creative, and lastly, a good marketer who understands the product and the market.
Thanks to: Weldon Vlasak of Adaptive Enterprises.

86. It's a State of Mind

Everybody wants to feel needed, appreciated and important. Want to improve productivity...give people a 'real' opportunity to part of the business team and let them express their ideas and suggestions for making the business better in some way. Go further than a suggestion box; when someone wants to contribute, sit down with them privately and let them detail their thoughts to you. Happiness is catchy...so is negativity. Happy people are more productive.
Thanks to: John Schulte of National Mail Order Association.

87. Stop Measuring

If you want to increase productivity- stop trying to measure everything. People have become obsessive about metrics-sometimes using software with minute by minute tracking. STOP. Pick a few key things to measure. You might be surprised how much time you waste on things that don’t matter. Want to be really productive? Try something old fashioned-“walk the floor” of your business and talk to people. Don’t email or text. Actually communicate and you can get the job done faster and better.
Thanks to: Cynthia Kay of Cynthia Kay and Company.

88. Institute the Happiness Index

Get three buckets, one full of tennis balls. Every day, team members grab a ball and drop one in the happy or sad bucket. It’s a daily mindfulness check-in to personal happiness, keeping a positive attitude for the entire team. Individuals who consistently identify as sad become more self-aware that change is required. Track the happiness index over time for organizational trends noting significant events; follow-up with additional questions if you trending downward as an entire team.
Thanks to: Glen Lubbert of Mojo Interactive.

89. You Want "Great?" Just Ask

I can’t offer carrots like raises, benefits or vacation time to my people. But I can offer "involvement.” I regularly ask all team members to contribute thoughts, opinions and ideas outside their daily job descriptions. In return, I get some seriously out-there thinking and fresh, original ideas. My staff sees that their contributions are truly valued. I see indisputable signs of personal growth. And “productivity” is one of the few challenges I DON’T have.
Thanks to: Betsy Dee of betsy dee & co.

90. Increasing Productivity

There are several ways to increase productivity in the office. Motivate employees and reward them when they do a quality job, so that they continue to be productive, set goals, and clearly and simply communicate with workers and clients so that they know what to expect.
Thanks to: Eden Rosen of Freelance Author, Speaker, Advocate.

91. Just Do

Instead of planning for the worst case scenario, plan half its way, act and deal with the issues on the way; issues are a good way to learn things. Just make sure to have the right person in the right position. Don't let your CFO deal with the marketing and don't let your marketing manager deal with the economy. Instead, make they understand each other.
Thanks to: Mikael Olsen of Staffup.

92. Try a Group Hug

Simply presenting a plan to employees designed to increase productivity can be met with reluctance or resistance. Instead, empower employees by engaging them in the task of innovation to form a plan. Give employees the chance to answer the questions of better, faster, and cheaper. They know the day-to-day better than anyone and will not only problem-solve, but will become brand ambassadors to the broader workforce. The result is a plan and a staff to promote it- now that's a productivity boost!
Thanks to: Sherrie A. Madia, Ph.D. of Author, S.E.R.I.A.L.PRENEURSHIP.

93. Get Clear and Get More Done

Teach your people to eliminate distraction. How? Have them slow down. Reward them for doing fewer things, but doing them extremely well. Close the door, do not take phone calls, do not allow colleagues to interrupt, and do not read email. Finish the task at-hand. Peak performance occurs when the mind is clear. Chaotic thinking is the biggest form of distraction we face. Yet, significance is not inherent in any one thought; our interpretation provides the significance. Get clear and get more done.
Thanks to: Tim Chaney of Tim Chaney, Success Coach/Author.

94. Schedule Yourself Silly

A double entendre - Yes! Being a highly productive solopreneur or mini magnate boils down to you & your team laser-focusing your time on areas of strength, while mitigating or delegating your weaknesses. Book your day into manageable action periods, so that you know which crucial tasks you must attend to at any moment. But all work & no play will negatively impact your results, so schedule some “silly” time into the mix to give yourself time to refresh. Productive = preparing to operate at 100%.
Thanks to: Dr. Shannon Reece of Reece International LLC.

95. ONE Piece of Advice

Do whatever you can to make it a "Happy Place" to work. Nothing increases productivity like having a little fun. If people are able to smile and laugh once in a while at work, it spreads to other employees and also to customers. If you had a comedian come into your office one day and make people laugh out loud, they would go back to work energized. It's good for the heart, good for the soul, and good for the bottom line! A fun life and happy work is good balance, like the little dog on the beach.
Thanks to: Brian Cox of ERS, Inc.

Do you know another great tip for increasing productivity that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
18 comments
arshinipreetish
arshinipreetish

We should require focus and time management skills in order to achieve productivity. We know exactly how much time we have to spend each day. But in order to be productive we have to do more than just manage time.

To develop our time management skills, we should require some time recording software (  http://www.replicon.com/olp/online-time-recording-software.aspx ). Personally, I use Replicon software. I must say that I haven’t seen such an excellent tool in my career. It is a great tool to save time and cost as we can do things almost instantaneously and simultaneously.

MarketectureU
MarketectureU

Good tips here! One I would add is to eat lots of fruits. It might sound simple, but the complex sugars in fruits give you energy without making you feel guilty or tired afterwards. You can even keep a bowl of fruit in the breakroom for employees to take advantage of. It's surprising how much of a different it will make in their productivity!

Adam Drake CFA
Adam Drake CFA

Automate! We've automated many processes whether it has been custom software or complex macros in Excel. There are many possibilities if you are creative. Automating routine processes leaves more time for existing clients and prospecting.

thefinancialite
thefinancialite

These are all great tips - some I have heard before and some I am dying to try out! My tip would be to focus the core of your work (the tough assignments) for when you are most alert. For me, its the morning to tackle anything that needs my full attention. Then the rest of the day is spent following up on tasks, contacting clients, sorting my inbox. My productivity is fantastic in the AM and the afternoon sets me up for the next day!

AlanMiranda8
AlanMiranda8

Great read and insight. Much appreciation for Dell's efforts as well!

Cena Block
Cena Block

Great compilation of ideas and thoughts! - thanks for continuing to add value to small business entrepreneurs!

hiddenvalleyrv
hiddenvalleyrv

Prioritize, be flexible and treat your employees well. Our company priority lists often get readjusted a few times daily. If you're not flexible this can become discouraging. Pass along these concepts to your assistants and commend and reward them for their persistence and loyalty.

DawnRicherson
DawnRicherson

Love these great productivity tips from such a diverse groups. @Dell, since my laser printer doesn't want to communicate with my laptop, I would especially love this new laser printer -- it would boost my productivity so much I would tell the world about it!

lisarobbinyoung
lisarobbinyoung

Create a procedure manual. It's not sexy, but it makes life easy when you're training someone new or when you want to pass a task to a VA with minimal "retraining" time. Plus, if you're having a "brain dead" day, you can follow the simple steps you've previously outlined - it's like a recipe book for your business. Easy peasy.

JoLeaf
JoLeaf

Templates, templates, templates. Most of our tasks throughout the day are just repeated a million times over. So whatever you can automate will allow time to work on more things.

bertspost
bertspost

I think social media is the biggest productivity killer of them all. Everyone spends so much of their day checking their Facebook status and personal emails, that they can't focus and get sidetracked easily. The next thing you know the day is over and they got very little actual work done.

billgluth
billgluth

The real secret to greater productivity is to NOT manage but control your time and activities instead. Control implies decision making and action. Manage implies "try". Do, don't try, as the wise Yoda would say.

Nick
Nick moderator

I have two. The first would be to block social media period, unless it is in a controlled monitored environment. The second would be to turn work into a competition. When I worked as a loan officer for one of the largest banks in the country, I wasn't a top sales person because of the crazy commission checks. I was because of the production reports they passed around every single day. It literally killed me when someone I disliked had better numbers than me and it made me literally stay until my numbers were higher. If you keep track of everyone's productivity and make it public, your employees productivity will go up immediately, trust me on that one.

TonyRi
TonyRi

PRODUCTIVITY TIP: ALLOW WORKERS 30 minutes a DAY, so they can do personal stuff, do errands, check Facebook, twitter, etc. Every one has personal stuff to take care of, and if you allow people to do what they need to do... they will work harder during the rest of the work day.

TonyRi
TonyRi

I have always used DELL for my businesses. I started to buy DELL products since 1986, and continue to date... BIG FAN of DELL..

Nick
Nick moderator

Tony, I think workers today do that for 5 hours a day already lol.

 
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